The discipline of design is constantly changing. Especially when we look at digital design, from UX/UI to Product, and everything in between, the trends, the tools and the technology keep evolving.
Thankfully, there are many ways to keep up with the changes — blogs, videos, courses. And of course: books!
Even for an area as new as design for web & mobile, there’s already an overwhelming number of titles out there. To help you start with the best, we asked two designers to share the books they recommend most: Elena Putina, UX/UI Designer at Enspire Creative & Ramona Ziemann, Product Lead at Crunchyroll.
These are great books for those who’re interested in design, who’re just starting out and even those who want to brush up on some of the fundamentals.
Without further ado, here are the Books that Ramona & Elena recommend.
1. The Design of Everyday Things — Don Norman
After reading this you will never look at any object the same. You will question everything from doors to tea kettles to the most sophisticated computer program.
- The six fundamental principles of interaction: affordances, signifiers, constraints, mappings, feedback, and the conceptual model of the system.
- Good vs. poor design choices. Throughout the book, there is an emphasis on what constitutes good design.
- The psychology behind interaction with products and how people use them. This knowledge will help you to communicate your design decisions.
2. UX Design For Beginners — Joel Marsh
If you’re contemplating a career in UX design, and want to understand what it’s about, this book is a great place to start. Joel Marsh has take a lot of info about what UX Design is, and has put it into 100 lessons that are clear, practical and quite funny, at times.
- The book is in itself an example of good UX — with clearly separated major topics, concise paragraphs, lots of illustrations and a relatable voice.
- Practical, easy-to read and understand lessons, covering everything from the key definitions, research, information architecture, wireframes and prototyping, content and data, as well as how to get a job.
- It weaves quite seamlessly principles of the UX process with psychology and behavioral science, covering topics like behavior basics, design behavior, psychology of usability, etc.
- Great book even for non-designers who want to have an understanding of UX. In fact, it’s a wonderful resource for the whole team, managers and developers and you name it.
3. Don’t Make Me Think — Steve Krug
If you’re a web designer and have yet to read this book from Steve Krug, you’re missing out on a book that delivers value to anyone in tech.
Key features — what you’ll learn
- Common user problems related to usability.
- Web accessibility. How to make your products more usable and accessible.
- How to propose design changes to stakeholders.
4. The Principles of Beautiful Web Design — Jason Beaird
Whether you did design school or are self-taught, and want to understand the way web design works or remind yourself of some basic principles — I think this book is for you. It’s one of those that you keep coming back to, now and then — and I understand why it’s on its fourth edition.
- It covers pretty much all the major areas of design: layout & composition, color, typography, texture and imagery.
- Lots of real projects, as examples — which makes it a lot easier for visuals to understand complex concepts, fundamental principles, as well as do’s & don’ts.
- Another easy-to read book, and the writers are both informal and professional, so you won’t even notice how you’ve gone through the whole book.
5. Steal Like an Artist — Austin Kleon
These kinds of books are like good candy. It’s a quick read that you can finish in one sitting, but the ideas and advice it contains will stay with you long after you’ve put it down. Some of Austin’s suggestions will validate what you’re already doing, some will challenge you to fundamentally change a creative practice, others will inspire you to grab a notebook and get to work immediately.
Because it’s such a small and accessible book, you’ll want to go back to it from time to time. As you change and grow as an artist, it reveals new ideas and inspirations to you that you may have missed on a previous read.
6. 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People — Susan M. Weinschenk
Every designer is wearing a multitude of hats, and the best ones are a bit of a jack-of-all trades. They know how to do design, but they also know a bit of marketing, a bit o psychology, a bit of business — you get the gist. And especially when it comes to UX, and the focus on User Experience, it is important that we know and learn about human nature, human behavior, and the way to communicate effectively to people just like you and I :)
- It’s divided into a few areas, focusing on how people see, feel, read, remember, think, etc.
-Even though it’s heavier on psychology than design, it helps you take your work to another level, where you don’t just make pretty things but you actually create products and visuals that communicate effectively and accomplish their goals (while also looking good).
Here are a few more books that are just as good, but didn’t quite make the list. For those of you who read the above titles, this is the follow-up list!
- Hooked, Nir Eyal
- Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days, Jake Knapp
- Design is Storytelling, Ellen Upton
- Laws of UX, Jon Yablonski
- How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer, Debbie Millman
Did Ramona & Elena miss any great books that are must-reads?
Leave your recommendations in the comments below.
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